The 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day, but it should be! And, Cinco de Mayo is not an American holiday, but it should be. So, why Cinco de Mayo? And why should Americans savor this day as well? Is it because 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862? Lets check it out.
The French landed in Mexico, along with Spanish and English troops, five months earlier on the pretext of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of President, Benito Juarez, who was indigenous. The English and Spanish quickly made deals, got paid and left. The French, however, had different ideas. Under Emperor Napoleon III, who detested the United States, the French came to stay. They had visions of taking over the struggling warring United States. They brought Maximiliano, a Hapsburg prince and his wife Carlota, with them to rule the new Mexican empire that would provide the armed southern flank to attack the United States.
Napoleon’s French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French were not afraid of anyone, especially since the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War that saw the North warring against the South over the issue of slavery.
The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City to the west, the French assumed that the Mexicans would give up, should their capital fall to the enemy as European countries traditionally did. Meanwhile, under the command of Texas-born General Zaragosa, (and the cavalry under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz, later to be Mexico’s president and dictator), the Mexicans awaited for the French to attack in Puebla.
General Zaragosa ordered Colonel Diaz to take his cavalry, the best in the world, out to flank the French. In response, the French did a most stupid thing; they sent their cavalry off to chase Diaz and his men, who proceeded to butcher them. The remaining French infantrymen charged the Mexican defenders through sloppy mud from a thunderstorm and through hundreds of head of stampeding cattle stirred up by Indians armed only with machetes. When the battle was over, many French were killed or wounded and their cavalry was being chased by Diaz’ superb horsemen miles away. The Mexicans had won a great victory for their country. The struggle for Mexican independence from foreign rule had begun.
Of greater importance to modern day Americans, the Mexican army had kept Napoleon III from being able to launch an attack against the Northern Troops and from supplying the confederate rebels for another year. This allowed the United States time to build up their forces smash the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Pueblo, essentially ending the Civil War.
Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who supplied the Mexican forces with supplies and weapons.
The “Cinco de Mayo was a povital point in U.S. History. The survival of the United States was assured by to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. Yes, Cinco de Mayo has become a fiesta of celebration in America. The Americanos made the connection that Americas freedom and liberty was founded on the the battle fields of Puebla, Mexico on the 5th of May, 1862.
Mexico was to wait a while longer. . .approximately three years, to rid the country of Maxiliano, and Carlotta, who had been made Emperor & Empress of Mexico by Napoleon. The drive to extent the French Empire into the Americas died in the expulsion of the French from Mexico’s soil.
VIVA! El CINCO DE MAYO!!